Recently I located a source for top notch Southern Red Cedar and am looking for feedback whether we should stock it in small but very select amounts. I could possibly have it sawed to individual specifications and would probably make two trips a year (Nov. and Apr.) to fetch it. Consequently, this issue is about Aromatic Red Cedar.
Southern Red Cedar (Juniperus Siliciola) and Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana) cannot be separated on the basis of wood structure. They are even-grained, fine textured, and moderately dense (sp.gr. 0.44 green). They have excellent working qualities, fragrance, and reputed moth-repellent properties. Principle uses include fence posts, lumber for chests, wardrobes, closet linings, millwork (sash, doors, interior finish), pencil slats, and, at the Tuckaway Homestead, sauna bench tops.
Both species are usually available in only small sizes and generally knotty. The sapwood is nearly white and usually thin; the heartwood is purplish to rose-red when first exposed then ages to dull red or reddish brown - sometimes with streaks of "included" sapwood that decrease with the tree height.
The Latin names are interesting: Southern Cedar's species name is "siliciola" because it grows in sand; and Eastern Cedar's is "virginiana" because it was first observed at Roanoke Island, Virginia, in 1564.
Eastern Red Cedar is the most widely distributed conifer, native in 37 states. Its juicy blue berries feed many kinds of wildlife including the Cedar Waxwing which was named for the tree.